“Cent Ans” par Renaud

I have earlier written about both Renaud and Coluche; you can find my posts on them (“Mistral Gagnant” and “Coluche”, respectively) in the “Songs” and “French Popular Culture” categories of this blog.

In 1988 Renaud released his album “Putain de Camion”.  It carried the name of the final track, a song he wrote in homage to Coluche (the two were close friends) after Coluche’s death in 1986.

One of my favorite songs on “Putain de Camion” is “Cent Ans”.  I thought of the song today because I have been sick these last few days and a cluster of four lines in the song, in classic French humor noir says “I am 100 years old and  I’m quite happy.  I have another toothache.  But suffering is very reassuring.  It only happens to the living.”

I discovered this song in 1996 when my (then) husband sang me those very lines while I was recovering from a broken leg.  I didn’t find the lines very funny at the time, but since I am currently only suffering from allergies, I got a kick out of the lines when they popped into my head this morning.

I have inserted a clip of Renaud singing “Cent Ans”, the lyrics and my translation of them below:

Cent Ans
Gidon, Pierre Jean Alex; Sechan, Renaud

J’ai cent ans et j’ suis bien content,
J’ suis assis sur un banc.
Et je regarde les contemporains,
C’est dire si j’ contemple rien.
J’ file des coups d’ canne aux passants,
Des coups d’ pompe aux clébards,
Qui m’énervent et j’ me marre.
On peut rien m’ dire, j’ suis trop vieux,
Trop fragile, trop précieux.
J’ai cent ans, qui dit mieux.

J’ai plus d’amour, plus d’ plaisir,
Plus de haine, plus d’ désirs,
Plus rien.
Mais j’ suis comme le platane,
Un peu d’ pluie, j’ suis en vie, ça m’suffit.
J’ suis bien.

J’ai des marmots qui m’ courent partout autour,
Des gonzesses moins, mais ça mange pas d’ pain.
J’ parle aux oiseaux, comme disait l’autre idiot,
Et j’ me d’mande où j’ai mis mon chapeau.

J’ai cent ans et j’ suis bien content,
J’ai encore mal aux dents.
Mais la souffrance, c’est très rassurant.
Ça n’arrive qu’aux vivants.
J’attends tranquille sur mon banc
Que ce vieux monde explose,
Tant il se décompose.
Moi ça fait quatre vingt quinze ans
Que j’ crois plus à grand chose.
Il est temps que j’ me repose.

J’ai plus d’amour, plus d’ plaisir,
Plus de haine, plus d’ désirs,
Plus rien.
Mais j’ suis comme le platane,
Comme ma canne, j’ suis solide et ancien.
J’ suis bien.

J’ souhaite pas aux p’tits jeunes une bonne guerre
Vu qu’ moi j’en ai pas eu, à part Mai 68.
Mais j’ me rappelle même plus en quelle année c’était,
Ni qui c’est qu’avait gagné.

J’ai pas cent ans, je faisais semblant,
C’étaient qu’ des mots, du vent.
Mais j’aimerais bien les avoir demain,
Même aujourd’hui j’ veux bien.
Pour jouir enfin du bonheur,
D’avoir pu traverser,
Sans me faire écraser,
Cette pute de vie, ses malheurs,
Ses horreurs, ses dangers,
Et ses passages cloutés.

Cent Ans (English)
Gidon, Pierre Jean Alex; Sechan, Renaud

I am 100 years old and I’m quite happy;
Seated here on a bench.
I look at my contemporaries,
That is to say if I’m not thinking of anything.
I hit the passersby with my cane,
Kick the dogs
That annoy me and I burst out laughing.
People can’t say anything to me, I’m too old,
Too fragile, too precious.
I’m 100 years old, who can say better than that?

I have no more love, no more pleasure,
No more hatred, no more desires,
Nothing at all.
But I’m like the sycamore tree,
A bit of rain, I’m alive, that’s enough for me.
I’m doing fine.

I have kids running all around me,
Women less, but that’s alright.
I talk to the birds, like that other idiot said.
And I wonder where I put my hat.

I am 100 years old and I’m quite happy.
I have another toothache.
But suffering is very reassuring.
It only happens to the living.
I wait calmly on my bench
For this old world to explode,
It’s decomposing so quickly.
As for me, it’s been 95 years
since I really believed in anything;
It’s time for me to rest.

I have no more love, no more pleasure,
No more hatred, no more desires,
Nothing at all.
But I’m like the sycamore tree,
Like my cane, I’m solid and old.
I’m doing fine.

I wish for today’s young people a good fight,
Seeing as I didn’t have one, except for May ‘68.
But I don’t even remember anymore what year it happened in,
Or who it was who won.

I’m not 100 years old, I was pretending.
They were only words, just wind.
But I would like to be 100 tomorrow.
Even today I’d be happy
To finally enjoy the happiness
Of having been able to traverse,
Without having been crushed,
This miserable life, its miseries,
Its horrors, its dangers,
And its studded doors.

3 thoughts on ““Cent Ans” par Renaud

  1. Hi Melissa, greetings from northeast Kansas, thanks for the translation. I found it because I do a weekly radio show called Everything But the Kitchen Sink on The Global Voice and a few other Internet radio stations. I play music from just about any genre, from just about anywhere, and I’ll be playing Cent Ans at the very beginning of the show next week. I will often read a translation or a synopsis of what the song is about. I speak Spanish, Portuguese, and a bit of Esperanto, so I usually translate songs in those languages myself unless I can find a nice one online, but for French I first look for one online, which is surprisingly easy with these more popular chansons. If I can’t find one, I’ll ask a friend of mine in Alsase who enjoys doing that for me. So anyhow just thought I’d let you know I’m featuring your translation on the show, hope you don’t mind. You can tune in on May 28, 2013 at 11 PM Eastern (May 29 at 0300 UTC), or simply listen or download from the address listed as my website in this comment. You’ll have exactly one week to do that before the file is replaced by the next week’s show. Bonne journée.

    1. Bonjour Shawn. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know! I am glad you found the translation useful. I am thrilled my translation will be helpful to you. I will definitely check out your radio show! It sounds really cool! I love how the internet lets us discover things we would not otherwise have no way to even know existed. And how it let’s us be in contact with people we would not otherwise have met…like us getting to correspond. I am extremely impressed that you speak and can translate from so many languages. Magnifique! By the way, what city/town are you in in Kansas? My Dad was born in Kansas so I am going to let him know that you wrote. 🙂

      1. Bonjour Melissa, thanks for the reply, hope you enjoy the show! Nice to meet you. Actually I live in rural northeast Kansas, in the northwest corner of Atchison county. We’re looking now for a place to move to in Atchison propper. I’ve been out here since 1997, originally from Glendale, Arizona. Yes the Internet can certainly bring people together who otherwise would never have met. I relearned my forgotten high school Spanish 16 years later, and learned Portuguese as well via the Internet, mainly talking to people on Skype starting back in 2004.

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